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Jude  x 

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2017, the year of making so much pasta sauce. A bumper tomato crop.

 

This is the second instalment of my Store Cupboard series, my first instalment I shared in yesterday’s post.

Creating a Store Cupboard isn’t a once done, leave it and walk away kind of thing. It evolves. I replied to a comment left on my Instagram post in relation to The Store Cupboard #1 blog post.

“It is such a good habit to have, I love how it evolves as we do yet fundamentally stays the same”.

The fundamental purpose of having a store cupboard and stockpiling is to be prepared and have enough for when and if circumstances change, saves money buying specials, preserve the harvest.

The store cupboard evolves because what goes in the stockpile changes.

Supplies get used, restocked and used again. You’ll fall out of love with different products and maybe never want to eat another turnip in your life after you’ve been given a bulk amount. Maybe speaking from experience with that one!

You might find better ways to store different foods or even find different fruit or vegetable varieties that have a longer shelf life.

Lil’s Plum & Lavender Cordial and Jam. 2018.

Where to start;

Start small with what you can afford and only buy enough and grow enough that you can store. Of course, sharing some of your home grown produce is wonderful and included in growing enough. I use the term enough because you don’t need or want to be stockpiling what you won’t use or eat .

Michael and I started small, a small amount of space and a small budget to buy extra, we worked with what we had.

When we first lived together there was a cupboard in the spare room and we could only stock it with what we could make and afford.

Homemade ginger beer and Michael’s homemade brew on the bottom two shelves.

Toiletries,  spare tooth brushes, toilet paper, and tissues on the next shelf.

The jam, chutney and pickles I made on the top shelf.

We bought as much frozen fruit and veg that could fit into the freezer section in our fridge. It was a rental property and the fridge came with the property, there was no room to put a separate freezer and at that stage we couldn’t afford one anyway.

Extra laundry detergent bought on special was kept under the laundry sink with any extra laundry supplies.

Just because you don’t have a big pantry, walk in store cupboard, big freezers or root cellar doesn’t mean that you can’t stockpile, just try and group everything as close to where it will be used. For example, fit some extra bottles of washing up detergent in a row under the kitchen sink when they are on special. If your bathroom sink doesn’t have a cabinet underneath it could you fit a nice box there to stockpile some toiletries.

Our pantry cupboards. Home grown fruit & preserves. March 2020.

Somethings we have found helpful:

The beauty of stockpiling is there are no rules. Focus on what you can afford, what you will definitely use, eat and drink.

Remember to check the use by dates and keep everything that needs using first at the front of the shelf. When you restock your shelves, add things to the back.

Keep your shelves neat and tidy. Simple, but effective.

Group ingredients together. E.g. baking ingredients on one shelf, pasta making ingredients on another next to the pasta machine, herbs and spices in jars the same drawer.

We have the store cupboard where food hasn’t been opened. Once the food packaging is opened, it gets decanted into a clean glass jar with a well sealed lid and goes into the kitchen pantry. Some jars are recycled with the label taken off, some purpose bought. The jars are always in rotation, once empty they go back into the pantry with something else in it, it may be used for preserves, sometimes the lids need renewing.

If you grow your own fruit and veg from seed keep an eye on the seed catalogue descriptions for “stores well”.

Pick your fruit and veg at its optimal harvest time to preserve and put by.

Ventilation. I don’t like having the bottom of a shelf  too close to floor boards  with the gap between the floorboards and the shelf closed off, there is no air circulation and it can tend to make the cupboard smell of damp.

Keep an eye on those cupboards that are on the south facing wall if you are in the Southern Hemisphere and the North facing wall if you are in the Northern Hemisphere, they can tend to be damper then the rest of your house and things go mouldy quicker.

Teach your kids to make their favourite preserves when it is age and stage appropriate. Good life skills. Lil started off “helping” by counting how many plums went into the jam pan, then we counted how many plum pips came out before bottling to make sure we had them all. Lots of maths was covered in practical lessons, weights, measures, volume, temperature.

Making Beetroot Chutney. March 2018.

Increasing our stockpiling has been a gradual process and so far it is twenty-one years in the making. We have learnt new preserving skills, found better recipes and returned to old favourites, increased our gardening knowledge of what grows well for our climate and stores well in our cottage. We have made sure to include adequate pantry and store cupboard space in the homes that we have renovated, invested money in freezers, and invested time and money in a large kitchen garden, small orchards, berry patches and herb garden.

We always try and cook a double batch of flatbread. Some goes in the freezer.

Focus on what you can do and your stockpiling will evolve. There is a season for everything in your life, sometimes other things may take more priority but try and keep the fundamentals in place, there is nothing wrong with buying something instead of growing it when life throws a curve ball. What matters is having enough, a cosy home and a filling meal. It’s a simple process but steadying and grounding.

Until tomorrow, Jude x

Ps. I think I’ll always remember cleaning that first store cupboard very well, the ginger beer and Michael’s home brew exploded more than once!

The Store Cupboard #2

January 12, 2022

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